Director: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Aubrey Plaza. Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni
Safety Not Guaranteed is the eccentric story of a magazine intern who befriends an unusual “time-traveling” man in order to write a story on him. What on the surface looks like some sort of sci-fi/adventure film is actually a quirky rom-com with plenty of originality. It’s a quaint indie movie that has plenty of awkward cuteness and even a few laughs that will leave you with a smile on your face by the end of it.
Plot: Darius (Plaza) has just begun a job as an intern at a Seattle magazine. She jumps at the chance to investigate the story of a man, Kenneth (Duplass), who put an ad in the newspaper looking for a partner to travel back in time with. At what first seems absurdly unrealistic becomes more and more interesting as Darius befriend Kenneth and realizes the man that he truly is underneath his strange exterior. Accompanying her on this mission is fellow intern, Arnau (Soni) and co-worker, Jeff (Johnson), both of whom are struggling with some sort of romance issue of their own.
Trevorrow uses the weird and outrageous story line as a tool to bring these characters together. In the end, it doesn’t matter if Kenneth is really able to time travel or not, it’s the fact that this weird and anti-social guy was able to find a partner to do it with. As Darius becomes more and more involved with him during the movie, that fact seems more obvious to the viewer. Everyone is looking for what Kenneth is looking for: a reliable person who has great chemistry with us and we can trust when the going gets rough. In a sense, this movie really kind of is about time travel and who in life we most want to spend our time time traveling with.
It’s a clever story and a simple one, but something anybody can relate to. That’s the true greatness of Safety Not Guaranteed. There is no extra fluff surrounding the material and the movie is pretty straight to the point. Although I appreciated this aspect of the movie, I felt like I would have liked to get to know the characters a little more. There is a bit of depth to Darius and Kenneth as they get to know each other and they talk about themselves, but I would have liked to dig into their characters just a little more. The other two main characters, Jeff and Arnau, have very little said about them and they are pretty much given to us in the typical “guy who is a virgin” and “guy who is a player” way. The fact that the movie is only about 80 minutes might have something to do with it. I felt like it was a little too straight to the point and didn’t quite have enough room for making an emotional connection to the movie.
Safety Not Guaranteed is a quintessential indie flick with witty humor, creative characters, and a unique premise that you’ve never really seen before. It’s simple and low budget but thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end. I do love a nice indie film once in awhile because there is a certain sincerity to them that you don’t really get from a movie that has a budget the size of Africa. So yes, the film does have it’s flaws as I have mentioned, yet I still am very happy to have watched it. Everything about Derek Connolly’s screenplay hints that he is trying to portray realistic people that you can relate to in a situation that everybody has been in, the search for the perfect partner.
Conclusion: I think maybe making this film just 30 or so minutes longer would have really done the trick for me. I liked this movie a lot but felt like there wasn’t anything I could really latch onto that would really make it memorable. However, you have to appreciate the directness towards the central and heartfelt premise of the movie. The characters and their relationships were all very likable, I just wish Trevorrow spent more time on them. All in all, Safety Not Guaranteed is worth a watch by anyone if you’re looking for a quick little story that will leave you pleasantly satisfied.